I sat in that therapist’s chair on a consistent basis for more than four years. Looking at the same sun-catchers on the windows. Searching through tears for answers to her questions. Sometimes I laughed, many times I cried. She nodded approvingly when I’d learn something new about life, the wisdom to make better, more healthy decisions in my relationships and for myself. It was all quite a journey and I do not regret a moment of it. I needed it. I needed to dig way back, to learn about who I was, and what I really wanted. I needed to get a firm grasp on reality, and an even firmer grasp on the path I was walking. Defining my convictions made me strong enough not to continue being knocked around by life’s winds of change. When you are brave enough to go back there, to a place that’s not so pretty, it’s incredibly difficult. You have to muster the strength to face, and eventually shine light in the dark areas of your soul. Positive change is not easy. But it is always worth it. You will be filled with a passion for your own life, and your feet will be steadily planted on solid ground.
This is where you can move forward.
Planning the future was my obsession. Analyzing the past was a close second. But being here and now, I never did well. I didn’t feel the strength and peace it took to stop walking backwards. To do an intentional about face and look ahead with purpose. I didn’t know how glorious it could be to start taking smaller bits of what was ahead, instead of foolishly making myself crazy plotting out my life. You maybe have noticed in your own life, that the story you’ve envisioned is often messed up by another human being not playing their part properly in accordance with your story. Life and circumstances change without notice. You sit and toil. Defeat and complacency often set in. You’re confused, and heartbroken. “I planned so perfectly!“, you say to yourself. “This is not the script!”
I have always claimed to be a Christian. I say claimed because I thought I was truly living it. All that time in therapy, and little time with the Lord. My eyes read hundreds of pages of man made self-help, and less than a few pages of our Creator’s life manual. These past several months I’ve made some changes. I’ve been completely immersed in the Bible, and living God’s truth. It was time I finally got in the Word. It started by truly accepting that God’s word and His promises were real.
“For the word of the LORD is right and true; he is faithful in all he does.” – Psalm 33:4
It is not enough just to read however. I must act. We are called to act.
“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” -James 1:22
Do what it says.
I’ve had the honor of beginning a new journey. One that faces forward, instead of back. I’ve felt called to ministry for a long time. It lights me up and helps me grow to share my story, to give hope to the broken. Because we are all broken, in one way or another, but especially in blended family life, our hope is often nil. I am currently training in an area of ministry that helps others to find solutions; that gives strength in moving forward. I am so happy that I faced my past. Without it, you have a starting line, but not a history to guide you against running the same dead end race. I encourage self exploration entirely. But one day I realized, I could spend another 5-10-15 years in that office, hashing out the past, and I’d still be in the same place. My therapist gave me many skills for growth. Plenty of tools for change. But I always felt it going back to what wasn’t working, instead of what was. An incredible blueprint for yesterday, but no action plan for tomorrow. I learned one of the greatest truths a Christian has to lean on. The Bible is all about what’s NEXT. It tells us to look at ourselves honestly, to test ourselves, and it clearly demands growth but what it doesn’t do is tell us to dwell behind us. Instead, Jesus told us to look ahead.
“Then neither do I condemn you, Jesus declared. Go and sin no more.” – John 8:11
“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” – Galatians 6:9
“Therefore since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out before us.” Hebrews 12:1
And this, this is what finally enveloped my weary soul in peace:
We are told to look ONLY straight ahead of us. To plant our feet firmly in the next holy step. The next healthy step. Jesus doesn’t live in the past, because when we repent, the past is gone.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” 2 Corinthians 5:17
He also tells us that obsessing over the future is ridiculous. He didn’t say don’t make wise choices for the future with the information we have now.
He did however say “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” -Matthew 6:34
How can we overcome this? Many of us are hard wired to worry. To obsess. To plan. We feel like failures when things don’t go the way we anticipated, and we try so hard to lay our own paths instead of trusting God’s. How is that working out for you? For me, every single time I’ve ignorantly thought I had control of my life, of my family, of my circumstances, God had another plan and continued to shape me until I finally listened. He said He had it covered, did He not?
“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” – Revelation 22:13
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11
Never once were we promised a rose garden. An easy life. No troubles. All the things we want just because we deserve to be happy. No. That is not the truth.
Jesus said “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”- John 16:33
He told us we WILL have trouble. Not we might. Not if we do enough planning we are good to go. No. We WILL. So what do we do with that truth?
“Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” – Philippians 4:6
“For with God, nothing shall be impossible” – Luke 1:37
“BUT GOD NEVER SHOWS UP!” you cry out. “I pray all the time/tried praying once/waited for God to fix it and – NOTHING“. I’ve been there too. In fact, I’ve prayed heavily, “How do you expect people to believe in you, when you aren’t moving! You promised if I did this or that, you would be there, you would prosper me! And still, nothing changes!”
I had to learn the hard way, the true condition of my faith – it was conditional. I only believed when He was moving my way. Also, the Word is abundantly clear about how God’s will prevails, not our own. It may not look like what we want, but it is promised to be best for us. FAR better than anything we can come up with. We are to be more like Jesus, full of faith, seeking His holiness, and asking for God’s will. That’s where things start to become clearer for us. The following verses have grown me immensely in my faith:
“‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.” – Mark 9:23
“Your faith has healed you.” – Mark 10:52, Mark 5:34, Matthew 9:22, Luke 7:50, Luke 17:19
It’s all over the Book! Having faith is not an option. But when we struggle, and we will, we should ask for help.
“Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” – Mark 9:24
“And everything that does not come from faith is sin.” – Romans 14:34 <—Whoa. That is HEAVY.
This literally means we must stay with Him, all day long. Trusting, and moving along solid ground as He calls us to.
But how can we have faith when seemingly things continue to be negative despite all that we try?!
It’s been revealed to me in this way. The reason Jesus asks us not to judge others, is not only because we will be judged against the same measure toward us (Matthew 7:1). We are not to judge because we are not equipped to do so. Think about it. You are not the same person you were a year ago, or even yesterday. Our wisdom and perspective changes slowly everyday. What we once thought we knew entirely, we may now know nothing of! At best, wisdom is being revealed to us daily, but not all at once. The human mind does not know all, and cannot comprehend all. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:9
This is why it’s so important to trust in the Lord and His word. We only have small glimpses of the future, and can only make the next wisest step.
“Jesus replied, “You don’t understand now what I am doing, but someday you will.” – John 13:7
As parents, we are in a unique position. We know better than our children, often. We have wisdom that they lack. We wish to grow them. But they hate discipline. We are the same, in our relationship with God. He holds all the wisdom and seeks to grow us. We shy away from bad situations and we curse Him in the process. We forget that “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” -Hebrews 12:11 and “Blessed is the one whom God corrects; so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty.” – Job 5:17
When I got really cocky, about how I was doing my very best, praying, growing, trying and yet, nothing was changing. This hit me:
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Perseverance must finish it’s work so that you may be complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But he who doubts is like a wave of the sean, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double minded man, unstable in all he does.” – James 1:2-8
“Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.”- James 1:12
I was the double minded man. I was a wreck. Doing everything I thought to do and going nowhere. I was stuck. I was angry. And I shunned God for it. He woke me back up gently, and allowed me to come back, as only He can. He reminded me of His truth, that praying with poor motives, praying for MY will, whining about trials and thinking I actually knew better than Him would literally never get me what I want.
These days, I have found my security in the Word. I have found my hope, my strength and my path. I am one of the most broken, yet He chooses me, because I am willing.
Let us stop cowering over our daily lives. Let us stop worrying about what was said. Or what was done against us. How we will repay. Or how we will withhold forgiveness. How we will save and/or grow our marriages. How we will equip our children. Let us live presently with our Lord, focusing solely on His will, bound tightly to Him. The consequence of this type of living is that our characters will be strong, making our impact great, pure and true.
Our focus should be straight ahead. Walk firmly friends.